Close-up of a man and woman's hands holding a cardboard cut-out of a miniature house

Single Takes | The Space Between Us

I am not hot about either marriage or moppets, and so am “still single”. But as my inner circle (and now blog circle) knows, I am also very romantic. So, they have asked me, “Well, then, do you plan to live in?” However, I also like my space; have lived by myself for 10 years; have largely loved being so; have largely loathed the recent three years I’ve been staying with my parents (also because I now WFH) and so am looking forward to getting my own place again very soon; am in my early 40s, and the older you get and the longer you stay single, I guess you get set in your ways. So, what’s my response to their query?

Well, the romantic, own-space-loving me is also very individualistic / unconventional. (Surprise, surprise.) So, the way I’d like it is that my partner have their space (with or without family), I have my space (soon, without family), and we get a separate space: to meet up when we want to, to be on our own (in our own space, or in this mid-space without the other) when we don’t want to be with each other. So, a ‘live-in-between’?

One of my friends marvelled at my ingenuity. Only one. Guess that explains why I’m “still single”.

This is a repurposed piece from an earlier post. Had earlier done it as an Irfictionary post, but thought it works even better as a Single Takes piece, and so there it is.

Logo for Single Ticket, the series on the blog for talking about 'being single and all that goes with it'

Single Ticket: Here’s Introducing…

The SPI Cinemas’ ticket-booking site/app mocks me. As I continue in the process, it throws up the number-of-tickets-required option. By default, it is set to ‘2’.Screenshot of SPI Cinemas' ticket-booking site zoomed in on the default tickets' option

Understandable. In India, and especially a city like Chennai which loves its movies (there are takers for all the South Indian languages save Kannada – for historical reasons, and of course Hindi and English), cinema is by and large a social exercise. You go to the movies with your friends, family, significant other, colleagues, relatives. You go alone, by and large, if you are a movie reviewer or have time to kill, such as before going to pick up your friends, family, significant other, colleagues, relatives.

I am not a reviewer (though I enjoy my movies), have zero friends in Chennai (all my closest friends are in Bombay, where I was before moving here to be with my parents; long story, some other time, some other post), work out of home as an independent consultant (there goes the option of going out with colleagues), am not close enough to my relatives to be able to go with them (whoever’s here, that is; the better part of them are NRIs in various parts of the world), and my parents are past the age and inclination to watch so many movies. And oh yes, am single.

So, I find myself, 99% of the time, scrolling up that option, selecting ‘1’ instead, and then proceeding with the rest of the ticket-buying process. Damn you, SPI. (Actually, no, it’s a damn well-designed site, apart from, damn, this feature.)

Not that the scene was much better in my latter years in Bombay. By your mid-30s and definitely your early 40s (I’m 41), almost all your friends are married, with kids, and busy with their spouses and those kids. The ones that aren’t married are equally busy with their lives, either still trying to find that elusive someone or climbing another rung up the ladder. And with the way cities and social media have grown, people stay quite far from each other in the same city and are more than happy to just catch up with a quick Like or comment on FB.

So, forget movies, I had started going for most things alone: other entertainment options like plays, shopping (though this is best solo, I believe), and that most sacrosanct of social events, vacations. (While you gasp, I will move on.)

But movies being the most popular, easy and accessible option, I would find myself getting that loner ticket the most often in this space. It used to suck early on – the window guy would ask me again, “Ek hi ticket chaahiye?” (You want only one ticket?), I would nod stoically, he would ponder and finally hand me the ticket with the scripted, “Enjoy your movie.” (Maybe that’s why I moved to online booking.) But somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten okay with it; comes with age, I guess (I already told you: I’m 41). And going alone – for a movie, play, shopping, holiday – can actually be quite freeing. Something many of those friends, relatives, colleagues envy me for sometimes. “You’re lucky – no responsibilities”, “You’re brave (physically and psychologically), going for holidays alone”, “You did the good thing; never get married.” (While you rue, I will move on.)

Actually, being single is a bit of days/times/months you feel free, a bit of days/times/months you feel sucky, a bit of this, a bit of that. This series will look at all of that: the good, the bad, the in-between. So, whether by choice, chance, circumstance, am happy sometimes and okay at others, to take that single ticket.

A word about the logo: Two fonts and colours for the name, to indicate the two possible states you can be in when you’re single. Frothy and merry as the jovial font and happy pink for ‘Single’ (eschewed the standard blue for guys – also for the series to be accessible to women – but didn’t go for baby pink to not turn away the men), dull and contained as the heavy font and dark gray for ‘Ticket’. The dashed arrow came in more as a visual element, but also ended up indicating some kind of journey. And finally, the baseline, which was also a rhyme of sorts with the name. Come along; you don’t need a ticket.

Logo for Single Ticket, the series on the blog for talking about 'being single and all that goes with it'